Signing Steve Pearce and Trading Steve Pearce
Two days after his one year anniversary with the organization, Atkins would make what first appeared to be an under the radar signing when Steve Pearce agreed on a three-year contract with the Blue Jays for just under $19M starting in the 2017 season.
In his first season with the Blue Jays he had one of the most exciting few days a Blue Jays player could've given fans. On July 27, 2017 with the bases loaded in extra innings, Pearce would hit a full count pitch off of Liam Hendriks over the wall for a walk off grand slam. Three days later, the club found themselves trailing 10-4 in the bottom of the ninth against the Los Angeles Angels. Thanks to a two-run home run by Kevin Pillar and a few more batters getting on base, Pearce would come up with the bases loaded trailing 10-7. The 34-year old would hit his second walk-off grand slam in just three days. The team finished ten games under .500, but Pearce earned his contract by collecting 31 extra base hits in just 313 at bats.
The following season, in the second year of Pearce’s deal the Blue Jays were clearly not in contention for a playoff spot and Atkins moved him to Boston. In return, the club would get a 23-year-old Dominican prospect named Santiago Espinal. Espinal has become a valuable piece to the current club as he can play all over the infield and has shown to have a productive bat that led to him being selected to the 2022 All-Star Game.
Atkins came into the Blue Jays organization under a lot of hostility due to fans the love for Anthopoulos, but as you can see the moves he made over the first year and a half of his tenure set the Blue Jays up for years to come.